FUTURE LAB NEXT: ORGANIZING

IMG_0206Welcome to the beginning of a really cool day at Next:Organizing conference in Vienna. About 20 inspiring speakers and organizers, 120 participants and 1 very curious graphic recorder explored the future of organizing together:
Why do we need a quantum leap in organizing ourselves? Which practices will help us to get there? And could Holacracy be the next practice supporting that shift?

IMG_0226So there we were at Ares Towers with a stunning view over Vienna and an exciting day ahead of us. While people arrived, started chatting and drinking coffee, I started preparing my space, wall, pens and paper. Luckily, having a rough idea how to use the white space and – even more important – having a color-concept does some Zen-magic to me no amount of coffee can destroy.

WHY DO WE NEED NEW WAYS OF ORGANIZING?

The conference began with a brief overview of the day. Both hosts from Evolution at Work and dwarfs and Giants presented their outlook on a changing world, highlighting three major shifts.

First of all, the internet changes hierarchies from top-down to flat-structured hierarchies or non-hierarchical exchange between individuals. All of a sudden, everyone who owns a laptop can create something, start a business, start the next innovative revolution.
At the same time, the social order as we know it is eroding, for the better or the worse. Uprising markets are shaking good old Europe up, offering new products and services to satisfy new needs while using more and more of the resources we have on this planet.
Which ultimately will lead to a new world order. Not in a fear-based conspiracy theory sense, but in the sense that many shifts will and need to occur within our lifespan.

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This, on the other hand, propels new creative ways of working together based on a shared purpose, shared responsibilities and ever-evolving organizations which function like an adapting organism rather than a fixed institution. But what does that mean, really?

WHO ARE WE BECOMING?

The great thing is: we have the power of choice to decide the desired answer. Therefore, KaosPilots Switzerland and Swisscom presented their approach to leadership and organizational practices.

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Wether it’s a crazy creative business school that aims to make your synapsis do a limbo while educating its students in creative leadership / project / process / business design and teaching ancient medicine wisdom as burnout-prevention – or – Switzerland’s leading telecom provider inventing itself constantly while focussing on human centered design;
Both of them dare to ask the important questions: Who are we? Who do we want to be? What’s our vision, our mission, our purpose? And how do we get there? What (add swear words if you need to) is happening in the world right now? What does the world need? How can we evolve not only in a business-growing way, but in a life-growing way?

HOLACRACY, THE (NEXT) HOLY GRAIL?

One possible answer could be found in using Holacracy as tool for system change and to create responsive conscious organizations that are able to adapt according to its actual needs.

The basic idea is that creating a management hierarchy will not provide efficient structures and therefore invites employees to use personal relationships to get things done. Especially in a flexible shiftable environment, top-down hierarchies with their lengthy decision making processes and roulette-like game of taking and avoiding responsibility just aren’t adapting fast enough to keep up with an ever changing world and its shifting markets.

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Holacracy proclaims to „show people a radical new way to organize power“. It offers a set of rules, meeting practices and even a constitution that holds the power, not the CEO. Instead of titles, there are clear roles holding real authority to make decisions based on actual needs. Therefore, super flexible structures are being born and re-visited all the time, shaping a highly adaptive organization.

Outstandingly, tensions are not treated as something to „get over with“, but as important information that points to the organization’s potential to improve. Bringing in tensions, addressing the needed change and acting upon it is the shared responsibility of everyone. If you want to know more, go ahead and order the book.

What, lunch time already?! In case you want to check out what I did all morning, take a closer look at the graphic recording slideshow.

 

In the afternoon, everyone had the chance to get to know three organizations a little better and ask all the burning questions during Mini-Workshops. The only hard thing was to decide wether to go to HolacracyOne, Oerlikon, Zappos, Swisscom, KaosPilots, Netcentric, Tele Haase, Soulbottle, Beratergruppe Neuwaldegg or Dark Horse Innovation.

Of course I followed Kristy’s bright pink hair and black cat-ear-hat to listen (and record) how she found her passion thanks to Holacracy and left Zappo’s to design diversity plans and boost equality. You can find the article that started her amazing journey here.

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Next, I went to listen to the Dark Horse story. Dark Horse is a leading-edge innovation agency that has been founded by a whole class of graduate design thinkers from D-School in Potsdam/ Germany.

Sorry for the shift in language!

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Last but not least, I checked out the guys from Soulbottles and what they had to share about Holacracy, peaceful communication and how to change the habit of buying plastic through selling beautifully designed glass bottles.

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At the end of the day, people shared their insights in pairs of two and had some more time to exchange and socialize. My personal gold nugget was seeing others acting according to their core beliefs and striving to become the change they want to see in the world.

What a day!

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